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Geissler rotators
Fun with tubes
Geissler tube rotators
These are fine pieces of artwork and early technique, they were used as demonstration apparatus in physics lessons and some times even sold as educational physics toys in a box together with a Grenet battery, 

Most of them were used at the end of the 19th century. These motors were sold by companies like Max Kohl, Leybolds Nachfolger, Pericaud and Radiguet.
It must have been a fantastic light show those days, electrical motors where just like the Geissler tubes a new phenomena.
There were several motor designs, in most cases Froment or Wheatstone models.
Wheatstone's linear motor model
Most of this motor designs make use of a soft iron circular core, within this core spins a set of coils. There are 4 and 6 pole models mostly with a tapered core. On the wooden base are the connections for the motor coil and for the high tension. A Ruhmkorff coil or static machine together with sufficient power for the motor, often Grenet cells were used, completes the setup.

The look of a fast spinning Geissler tube.
Look here at YouTube for another  working example!
close up of the
breaker system
  This model is slightly different than the 
  common Wheatstone models. It has an
  iron stem and the poles are not tapered. 
  The height is about 20 centimeter.
  Probably a French model.
Collection of rotators from an old french  Pericaud catalog.
(picture courtesy of Alastair Wright)
A Pericoud Geissler rotator
This is the most common model Geissler motor with an height of 21 cm. This model is displayed in the Pericaud catalogue from the early 20th century below.
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Two other models of Pericaud Geissler motors
These tiny motors were part of physics boxes for children. Pericaud sold these around 1900.
Click to see the large image
Click to see the large image